Stopdesign, reloaded

Welcome to Phase II of the new Stopdesign. Baby’s got new shoes. As if I weren’t busy enough as it is with current projects. For some reason, two weeks ago, I decided to start a full-blown redesign by yanking my own style sheets, encouraging me to do something sooner, rather than wait for a lighter workload. For those that count, this would be design version 3 (not counting the short-lived lightly styled version this one replaces). The most obvious change is the much more confident use of photography in the header, followed by a significant re-org of the home page.

Visitors will likely notice a few familiar elements and concepts in this design revived from the previous version. Once again, each section possesses its own carefully chosen color scheme, switchable simply by changing the class on the body element. The primary navigation recycles many of the same style sheet rules written for v2. Typography returns to the original combination of Georgia (regular-weight, never bold) and Verdana.

Certainly new for this design is the reorg of the home page, and the obvious deemphasis of the weblog there. Rest assured, the weblog isn’t going away. Nor does this indicate a desire to write less often. In fact, I’ve rejiggered the Log Archive page to serve as a replacement for those who come only for the weblog. This change in focus simply comes from the need to balance out the offerings of Stopdesign as a business, which I’ll explain in a later entry, already half-written.

Included in this redesign is a completely revamped Portfolio section which makes heavy, heavy use of Brad Choate’s MTKeyValues plugin for Movable Type. In fact, an average piece in the portfolio (comprising of a single entry in MT) with two or three larger-size previews makes use of no less than 21 separate key/value pairs just to generate all associated pieces of content and meta data.

Aside from the changes to the home page and Portfolio section, other interesting bits for this design include alternating background colors for comments, (via a simple PHP variable that toggles back and forth and writes a class to every other comment), exposed company-related navigation that sits in the markup just before the footer, yet gets pushed to the top of the page via absolute positioning, and fixed-width 2- and 3-column layouts that can be toggled independently of the color scheme (via a similar ID-change method).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve given significant attention to improving the search results for much more of Stopdesign’s content. In addition to the main weblog, searching will now return results from Recent Links, Articles, and the Portfolio. Because of the increase in utility to both site visitors and to me, the search form is given more prominent placement on many pages, and will probably start showing up on a few more as I have time to add it in. The results page is now served up within the shell of my own crude templating system via PHP’s virtual() function.

I could probably say a lot more, but at this point, I just want to flip the switch on my style function and get this design live. I’ll share more in future entries. There are a few CSS-related issues I’m aware of in both IE5.0/Win and IE5/Mac that I need to take a look at later. But most everything should be working and displaying properly in the majority of modern browsers. I’ll leave the rest for others to explore and [hopefully] enjoy. As always, feedback and critique are welcome.